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The History of the SHI Cryogenics Group

Sumitomo’s business history begins in 1585 with the birth of our founder, Masatomo Sumitomo. It continues through the founding of the Besshi Copper Mine in the 1690s, the founding of the cryogenics business in the mid-20th century, and the creation of the SHI Cryogenics Group in 2002.

1585-1959: Establishing a Tradition

Wooden Statue of Masatomo Sumitomo, Sumitomo Historical Archives


Masatomo Sumitomo, founder of the Sumitomo family, is born. Around the age of 12, he is sent to Kyoto to begin studies in the Buddhist priesthood.

Original Sumitomo Medicine Store Sign, Sumitomo Historical Archives


Around the age of 45, Sumitomo leaves the Buddhist priesthood and opens a book and medicine shop in Kyoto.

Sumitomo’s Instructions to His Descendants, Sumitomo Historical Archives

17th Century

During his years as a businessman, Sumitomo develops a set of business precepts; the foremost of these being that business should never be done carelessly, but should be conducted with sincerity, courtesy and prudence. He later passes on these precepts to his family and employees, and they become the center point of the Sumitomo corporate spirit "Monjuinshiigaki".

An early illustration of the “foreign technology” copper refining technique, Sumitomo Historical Archives


After Masatomo Sumitomo’s brother-in-law, Riemon Soga, perfects “western-style” copper refining techniques, the Besshi Copper Mine is discovered in Shikoku Island, Japan. The Sumitomo family receives exclusive mining rights in 1691, and continues mining operations until 1973.

Besshi Copper Mine, 1890s, Sumitomo Historical Archives


The precursor to Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. is established as a machinery production and repair facility at the Besshi Copper Mine.

Sumitomo trademark inscribed on a pass, 1836. It symbolizes the frame of an old well, Sumitomo Historical Archives


Sumitomo officially formulates a set of Business Principles, based upon Masatomo Sumitomo’s original precepts. Article 1 explains the necessity of acting in good faith in order to maintain the other party’s trust. Article 2 points out that social trends should be studied so that social changes can be met with active responses. Moreover, one should never be dazzled by short-term profits and not hastily drawn to the promise of profits before investigating business feasibilities.

Rail line built to haul ore from the Besshi Copper Mine, c. 1905, Sumitomo Historical Archives


Establishment of Sumitomo Machinery Works, Ltd.

Post-WWII reopening of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, May 14, 1949


Sumitomo is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) after it reopens in 1949.


The precursor to APD Cryogenics is established as the Space and Missile Department of Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. in Allentown, PA, USA.

APD 3.9K Claude cycle refrigerator, c. 1960


Air Products’ Space and Missile Department renamed the Advanced Product Development Department (APD)

1962-2001: Building the Business

Original Hiratsuka Research Laboratory Employees


Sumitomo establishes its cryogenics business at the Hiratsuka Research Laboratory in Hiratsuka City, near Tokyo. The lab is headed by Professor Hiroshi Nagano from the University of Tokyo. Together with SHI, he obtains several education contracts for the joint development of helium recondensers, the foundation of cryogenics at Sumitomo.

8L helium liquefier, 1960s


Sumitomo extends its testing laboratories for the continued development and manufacture of helium liquefiers.

Hiratsuka Laboratory main building, 1960s


Sumitomo completes the main building at the Hiratsuka Research Laboratory.

The new Displex cryocooler featured in the Winter-Spring 1970 issue of the Air Products newsletter.


APD introduces Displex® cryocooler systems. Displex technology features a pneumatic drive, which limits the number of wear parts in the refrigerator. Combined with state-of-the-art design features, Displex technology is used today in SHI’s CH-Series Cryocoolers and Marathon® CP Series Cryopumps.

Aerial View of Tanashi Works


A merger between Sumitomo Machinery Works and Uraga Heavy Industries results in the establishment of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Original APD Cryopump, 1976


APD pioneers current-generation cryopump technology.

Canon Anelva Cryopumps, 1980s


SHI begins production of 10K cryocoolers for MRI and cryopumps. A merger between Sumitomo Heavy Industries and Nittoku Metal Industries results in the establishment of the Precision Business Division, which today includes the Cryogenics Group.

SHI’s GM-JT Cryocooler in use in Chiba University Medical Center’s MRI, 1986


SHI debuts its original GM-JT Cryocooler at the 1986 International Cryocooler Conference.


APD becomes a subsidiary of Intermagnetics General Corporation and is renamed IGC-APD Cryogenics, Inc.

SHI and GE employees successfully test an early 4K GM cryocooler in a GE MRI, mid-1990s


SHI begins designing and manufacturing 4K GM Cryocoolers for MRI applications

SCAI Chicago employees on the first day of business


SHI opens Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics of America, Inc. (SCAI) near Chicago, IL, USA, the first Cryogenics Group office in the United States.


SHI opens Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics of Europe GmbH (SCEG) in Darmstadt, Germany, the first Cryogenics Group office in Europe.


SHI opens SHI Manufacturing & Services (Philippines), Inc. (SHIms) in Batangas, Philippines.

2002-Present: Building a Better Tomorrow


IGC-APD Cryogenics becomes a subsidiary of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd., which eventually leads to the creation of the SHI Cryogenics Group. This adds two Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics of America, Inc. offices in Allentown, PA, and Sunnyvale, CA, as well as a second European office, Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics of Europe, Ltd. (SCEL), in Basingstoke, UK.

RP-052A 0.5W 4K Pulse Tube


SHI develops its first pulse tube cryocoolers.


Sumitomo Heavy Industries (Shanghai) Management, Ltd. [now Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics Shanghai, Ltd. (SCSL)] opens in Shanghai, China. The same year, SHI acquires Daikin Industries, Ltd.’s cryogenics business, expanding its global sales and service reach.

SICERA and Marathon CP Cryopumps


SHI develops two new cryopump lines. The SICERA® cryopump system is a unique, energy-saving product designed especially for the semiconductor industry. Marathon® CP Cryopumps meet the needs of high vacuum processes, including vacuum coating systems and custom laboratory equipment.


Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics Korea Co., Ltd. (SCKL) opens in Suwon City, South Korea.

RP-062BS 0.4W 4K Pulse Tube


SHI develops a separated valve unit option for pulse tube models. This technology further reduces vibration, enables operation in higher magnetic fields and eases maintenance requirements.


Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics Taiwan Co., Ltd. (SCTW) opens in Hsinchu City, Taiwan.


The Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics of America, Inc. office in Sunnyvale, CA, relocates to Santa Clara, CA.


Sumitomo (SHI) Cryogenics of America, Inc. opens its fourth office in Austin, TX.

FA-40 Air-Cooled Compressor


SHI develops the FA line of air-cooled compressors, based on the proven technology found in Freedom series water-cooled compressors.

2015 SHI Innovation Award winners


During the 2015 SHI Innovation Awards, the SHI Cryogenics Group wins a silver medal in Technology Development, for advancements in 4K pulse tube design, and a bronze medal in Sales and Service, for contributions to the growth of the after-market MRI business.


The SHI Cryogenics Group acquires Ferran Technologies, which provides leading-edge vacuum measurement and control instrumentation to the micro-electronics manufacturing industries. This creates the fifth US location, in San Diego, CA.


The SHI Cryogenics Group has twelve locations, including its world headquarters in Tokyo, offering customers a global sales, service and support network.

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